Brits Mean Business

Jenny Gardner, director of UK Trade and Investment in Stockholm, blogs about Britain, Sweden and doing business.

Archive for January, 2013

Riffing in the New Year

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

So, 2013 is finally here, its arrival marked with fireworks, confetti and celebrations. 

These days, “Ringing in the New Year” certainly has a double meaning. The internet and the networked society are here to stay, but the most recent developments are not about more computers or servers being connected to the internet, or about the internet being integrated into more gadgets and solutions – at least not only about that. To me, the biggest change in 2012-13 is about the network society becoming even more wireless. So the “ringing” will not only be about big bells this year, but also about our telephones that used to “ring”. These days, many phones are smart and can make all kinds of noises – chiming, barking and riffing – while we are chatting, tweeting, paying for things and interacting over the internet. The network is drifting on to our mobile phones and tablets in a BIG way. The mobile phone – that we fantasised a couple of years ago would become a multimedia machine – did not only become this, but a smart multimedia machine integrated with the rest of the world – and basically an extension of ourselves.

During the autumn I visited the SIME London 2012 event co-founded by Ericsson and got the opportunity to get inspired by both present and future possibilities. It was lovely to participate in an event with so many British and Swedish hi-tech people, ideas and innovations. 

Jon Mew from IAB spoke about how the vast majority of people in the UK are already online. The internet is of course already an integral part of British society. As much as 81% of the UK’s population of about 63 million people are already online. So that’s around 51 million people and the number is increasing. He also talked about how online advertising spending now dominates the media spend, as advertising spend is usually targeted to where the users are. 

But most importantly he talked about how smartphones and tablets are changing our behaviour. All told, 58% of the mobile phone users in the UK are using smartphones, while only 42% still use a feature phone. And the number of smartphone users is likely to increase rapidly in 2013. Again, this of course means that the advertising spend will not only follow the users online, but also on to the smartphones.

This basically means two different things to me at the moment. Looking at the UK as an ICT investment destination, it looks very favourable indeed for foreign (i.e. Swedish) companies. Not only does it mean that the £2.6 billion online ad market is growing, changing and developing according to IAB, which is a brilliant market opportunity for Swedish companies. It also means that all supporting ICT opportunities are growing and I find the continuing (and future) collaboration between Swedish and British companies to be laced with potential.

But the UK and Sweden going wireless also means a lot of changing behaviours and interesting new solutions. Skype will celebrate 10 years in 2013 – I have a hard time even remembering the times before Skype existed. Change happens so fast and it opens all different kind of possibilities. According to a Boston Consulting Group study published in 2012, more than 80% of Americans would rather give up chocolate for a year than give up the internet, while around 70% would rather abstain from coffee than the web. The internet is getting to be a wireless, integrated necessity of life and I have great expectations for 2013.

Lets Riff in the New Year with all of its ICT possibilities.

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